A few weeks ago, DODOlogic stopped by Hot Import Nights Vancouver.
Long before social media, blogs and everything else that has been developed in the last 18 years, there was Hot Import Nights – or HIN. I may be mistaken, but if I’m not, HIN began its 18-year run in 1997. Think about it this way: in the same year that we lost Notorious B.I.G and Titanic was breaking box office records, a group of people got together and created HIN. This even predates The Fast and the Furious by 4 years, and all the import scene madness of the early 2000s.
I would have been 13 at the time HIN was starting out, and that was about the same time I started reading my older brother’s Super Street magazine. As you might imagine in 1997, there wasn’t much of an import car scene in Regina, SK. So when you looked at car magazines and coverage from shows like HIN, it felt like it could have been happening on another planet.
Eventually I got older, got my own subscription to Super Street, built a car that was very 2000’s and pretty awful all things considered. By this time HIN was pretty much a household name. There were Canadian knock-off’s that emulated the aesthetic, but they were never really the same as what you’d see in magazines.
As time passed, eventually the bubble burst. It would seem the scene just couldn’t support the sheer volume of import car shows that had popped up. The typical tuner was getting older and cars were put on the back burner for more “responsible” pursuits. This also marked the mass exodus of part-timers and bandwagon jumpers.
The import car show scene would arguably never be the same. That’s not to say that all car shows are mediocre now, but the market and culture have evolved into something new. That is, of course, with the exception of HIN. For better or worse, HIN has endured the storm and in many ways has become a time capsule that gets opened every year. Better yet, it has become that one friend you have who doesn’t dress appropriately for their age.
HIN is still made up of the ingredients I used to read about in old import car magazines. They still have a DJ mixing “beats,” import car models who will pose next to/on your car (must be included with the price of admission?), and an announcer to direct the attendees through the scheduled events.
I didn’t make it all the way through the event, so it was more or less just a Hot Import afternoon and early evening. As I was leaving, they had moved all the cars into one parking lot so they could begin the rev-off. That’s right, a “rev-off” – every ricer’s wet dream come to fruition; not only could you rev the hell out of your engine, you were invited to do so. Some of the participants were so eager to engage in the pissing match that when one person revved their engine, the entire parking lot of participants joined in. Eventually the event organizers explained the contest only worked if they did it one at a time.
As you can probably tell, the rev-off was wasted on me. It’s one of things you try and stop from happening at car shows/meets, so I’m pretty much hardwired to cringe when it starts. As I continue my rant of disapproval, I would add that HIN could do without the import model interview portion of the show, and the event could have been a little shorter. It started at 2 PM and ran until 11 PM, so I imagine some of the activities they planned helped kill time.
I’ll admit that it’s easy to be negative and complain about certain aspects of the show, but I think it’s important to recognize that longevity doesn’t always equal greatness or perfection. There are things that could be improved by the organizers at HIN that could make the show stronger. And I think it’s important to be honest as it gives more weight to what I’m going to say next.
As an enthusiast who’s been around the block a few times, it’s easy to become jaded. Everyone truly is a critic and it’s very easy to dismiss the validity of something instead of recognizing its achievements. Yes, HIN has some shortcomings, and you are more likely to hear your fellow enthusiasts mention those. They might not be wrong in their criticisms, but to ignore the things HIN does right would also be a huge disservice to its organizers.
First things first: they showed up. That sounds dumb, but I think it’s been a while (if ever) since HIN has made its way to Canada. Car shows aren’t always easy to do, especially when moving into foreign territory.
Secondly, they picked a pretty good location (Starlight Casino in New Westminster). Yes, the initial setup for the space was a bit awkward, but once they started to fill in the gaps in the main parking lot, the show had a much better vibe to it. Not only that, but choosing the casino was an excellent decision because it is relatively central for much of Greater Vancouver.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they attracted a decent amount quality cars. Living in Vancouver – or just the Pacific Northwest – can spoil you a bit and set your expectations pretty high. Walking around the meet, I didn’t think much about I was looking at. Even when I went through the motions of prepping my photos, I didn’t think much about what I was doing.
However, when it came time to make this post (a task I’ve been putting off), it occurred to me that if 12-year-old me would have picked up a magazine and saw cars like the ones I saw at HIN, I probably would have been mesmerized by the grandeur of it all.
It’s easy to say that HIN isn’t what it used to be, but to be honest this was my first time attending. Or maybe it’s the same as it has always been and our expectations have changed. The truth is I don’t actually know. By the time I was old enough to travel to HIN events, I was more into drifting and other events of the moment – and not trying to revisit events of yesteryear. I’m still in no real hurry to make my way to HIN, but I definitely would attend if they came back to Vancouver.
Why would I attend again? Well, that’s just what enthusiasts do. And it’s important to support events like this because if you don’t, they can easily go away and then we’re left with nothing. Are these shows perfect? Of course not – not by a long shot – but things can’t get better without giving them feedback and the opportunity to do better.